Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those aged 10-24 years, according to Centers for Disease Control.

Lindsay Weiss

September is Suicide Awareness Month and Lee’s Summit CARES is dedicated to engaging more youth with their mental health and well-being to prevent suicide. It is incredibly important to know how to look for the signs of suicide and we want our community to feel comfortable reaching out to someone in need and in navigating resources.

Some middle and high school students feel very overwhelmed with stress and search for ways to manage their overly booked schedules and navigate their way through social media outlets.

Students who do not get enough sleep, proper nutrition and exercise – on top of facing daily stress – can experience anxiety and depression.

Every day, approximately 123 Americans die by suicide, roughly one death every 12 minutes. Each time an LGBTQ person is a victim of physical or verbal harassment or abuse, they become 2.5 times more likely to hurt themselves. But there is help for those who are struggling: 80% -90% of people who seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication.

Typically, long before a young person thinks of suicide, they struggle with daily stress, anxiety or depression and sometimes a traumatic event. We want to equip our youth to be confident resolving conflict, making good decisions and embracing themselves as a unique person with a lot of goodness to share with our community.

We want every young person to feel their worthiness and connection to a solid foundation of trust and belonging. At Lee’s Summit CARES we want to empower, inform and embrace every member of our community, particularly our youth.

Lee’s Summit CARES’ Youth Outreach programs have partnered with Summit Tech Academy to promote a health and wellness week with the theme “Stress Less.” We will discuss every day practices that teens can do to decrease stress in a mindful way, resolve conflict more easily and manage time appropriately.

Presentations with St. Michael’s Catholic high school regarding sleep hygiene, time management and coping skills are helping empower teens to be more mindful of their thoughts and actions. The health benefits of becoming more mindful are vast: improved physical health, better sleep, greater capability to handle stressful situations and clearer decision-making.

These kinds of programs – whether an hour, week long or continuous – can be implemented in any school that would like to create a more mental health and wellness focused and supportive environment.

Lee’s Summit CARES hopes to make all community members, including parents, teachers, business leaders, and others, more informed about youth mental health and wellness resources and to feel more confident reaching out for help. If you or someone you know have suicidal thoughts, call the local 24-hour First Step for Help hotline at 1-888-279-8188 or the National Suicide Hotline toll-free at 1-800-273-8255.

This article was written by Lindsay Weiss, who serves as the Lee’s Summit CARES Youth Outreach Coordinator and is a guest author for the Lee’s Summit Health Education Advisory Board. The Lee’s Summit Health Education Advisory Board is a Mayor-appointed, volunteer board that promotes and advocates community health by assessing health issues, educating the public and government agencies, developing plans to address health issues, encouraging partnerships and evaluating the outcomes.